Learning from Life: Puppy Edition

I tend to think in terms of whatever challenges I’m focused on most at the moment, especially if they’re new. When I’m dieting for the first time in a while, I look for lessons from that experience. As I raise my children, I figure new things out as I come across new situations. For me, it’s all just a part of the process.

So it should come as no great surprise that I find myself learning all sorts of things as we work on raising Ferris. In many ways, it feels like a streamlined version of raising a child: it’s so much easier to see different tendencies and sticking points, probably because a dog goes from a puppy to fully grown so much more quickly.

Ferris has energy. Lots of energy. Many times, he just doesn’t know what to do with all that energy. He’ll spend it up running through fields or chasing after bugs or sniffing the remains of squished frog in the middle of the road. He’ll also spend it trying to bite MC (his version of playing). It can be very frustrating to deal with all that energy, but once you recognize it for what it is, it’s also much easier to be understanding of him. Lots of energy paired with little experience is a recipe for a lot of trouble now and then, but at the same time, it’s also plain to see he wants to do the right thing. He just doesn’t always understand what the right thing is.

Unfortunately, it seems to be much easier to be forgiving of a puppy than it is to be forgiving of a person. (Again, likely because the puppy grows out of it so much more quickly than a human does.) But I think it’s important to remember those same principles are at play, especially when it comes to our kids. There’s a lot of energy and enthusiasm there, and if we direct it and nourish it, then they can really grow up to do incredible things.

These days, Ferris has calmed down around me a great deal. He likes coming to sit on my lap (even though he doesn’t fit nearly as well as he used to). I’ve got a fair bit of practice at enforcing rules consistently, and it’s been rewarding to see that consistency pay off. He knows what to expect: what’s allowed and what will get him into trouble. And by knowing those boundaries, he’s a happier puppy.

I’m not saying raising children is just like raising a dog. I’ve had to speak to Ferris in a tone I would never ever ever use with another human being, but he’s not a human. He’s a dog. A week or two before we were picking him up to bring him home, we had a chance to visit his whole litter. His mother was in the process of weaning the dogs. One of them really didn’t want to be weaned. She growled at him like she was about to rip his throat out. There was no reasoning. No gentle reprimands. There were stark boundaries. Of course, she didn’t actually rip his throat out, but it was an experience that helped me realize dogs handle things differently. That’s okay.

Anyway. Glad the little bounder is feeling better after his escapade with a UTI last weekend. It was seriously upsetting to see the poor puppers in such bad shape. Last night, we took him upstairs to watch television as a family; the first time we’ve watched TV together since we got him. (Up until now, we didn’t trust him in the movie room.) Once he realized the huge people on the 104 inch screen weren’t going to come out and play or threaten him, he calmed down, and a fun time was had by all.

Looking forward to more of that in the future.

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